Mar-a-Lago member declines Trump appointment as ambassador to Austria

Jan 29, 2018
Patrick Park

During a quiet meeting with President Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago during the Thanksgiving weekend, Palm Beach resident Patrick Park — a club member and Sound of Music aficionado — turned down the president’s invitation to become ambassador to Austria, Park has told the Palm Beach Daily News.

Park cited his family business, children, four young grandchildren and elderly parents in turning down the president’s invitation, saying the “timing wasn’t right.”

“My involvement with the family business and the time I would have to be out of the country to properly meet my ambassadorial obligations simply canceled each other out,” Park said. “I just didn’t see a way to make it without shortchanging other parts of my life.”

COMPLETE COVERAGE: Donald Trump in Palm Beach

Park, a Palm Beach resident and well-known society fundraiser, manages his family’s philanthropic foundation. By his own account, Park has chaired more than 200 fundraising events — most at Mar-a-Lago. Park said he is an avid fan of the Sound of Music - having seen the movie dozens of times and memorizing the lyrics to the songs.

In an unofficial note sent several weeks after Trump’s inauguration in January 2017, Trump told Park that he was his choice for ambassador to Austria, saying “on to your next chapter, Ambassador!” Park, who comes from a long line of decorated military officers, said he was “thrilled.” 

A month later Trump stopped by the ballroom to see his “dear friend” at event at Mar-a-Lago honoring Park’s two decades of philanthropy. In 2011 Trump also presented Park with a lifetime achievement award at Mar-a-Lago during the American Cancer Society’s annual gala.

The White House announced the new nominee, Trevor Traina, on Jan. 22. Traina, a tech entrepreneur and philanthropist based in San Francisco, is also the grandson of Wiley Buchanan, ambassador to Austria from 1975-1977.